Edward Gal's London Olympic Ride Undercover Passed Away

Thu, 10/19/2023 - 16:45
The Netherlands
Edward Gal and Undercover at the 2015 European Championships where they were instrumental in Team Holland winning gold :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Edward Gal's London Olympic ride Undercover has passed away on 26 September 2023. Owner Glock Horse Performance Center announced the news today. 

Undercover was a 22-year old Dutch warmblood by Ferro out of Mimosavrouwe (by Donnerhall x Roemer). He is bred by Marianne Hendriksen-de Rijk.

Stefano van Zuijlen

The black gelding was trained to Grand Prix level by Dutch rider Stefano van Zuijlen. He was owned by Bert den Uijl at the time.

After the sale of Totilas in September 2010, Gal bridged the gap with Grand Prix horses in Sisther de Jeu and Next One, but in 2012 Gal, his partner Hans Peter Minderhoud and business partner Nicole Werner signed a 10-year sponsorship contract with Austrian gun mogul Gaston Glock, who began buying a string of horses for them, including Undercover.

Stefano van Zuijlen on a young Undercover
Undercover was Glock's first buy after Gal contacted horse dealer Matty Marissink (who also found Totilas for them).  To this date, Undercover achieved the best results in the competition ring for Team Glock, so far. 

Dutch Team Anchor

Gal made his international show debut on Undercover at the 2012 CDI Saumur, finishing second in the Grand Prix with 73.681%. After starting in Munich and Rotterdam and winning the Dutch Grand Prix Championships, they were selected on the Dutch team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where The Netherlands won team bronze and individually the pair finished 9th in the Kur. London were Gal's first Olympics in his career.

In 2013 they were third in the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, won the Dutch Grand Prix Championships, and won team silver at the European Championships in Herning, where they placed fourth in the Special and freestyle. 

At the 2012 Olympic Games
In 2014 they were third again in the World Cup Final in Lyon and won the 2014 Dutch Grand Prix Championships for a third, consecutive year. The gelding was back on the team for the World Equestrian Games in Caen, but had to be substituted by Voice due to an injury. 

In 2015 the duo finished second in the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas and won his fourth Dutch Championships in a row.  Team The Netherlands achieved a mega feat at the 2015 European Championships in Aachen, by beating Germany in the lion's den in probably a roller coaster team championship competition in decades (with a lame Totilas not getting run out by the judges). During the team prize giving ceremony, Undercover got so wound up in the lap of honour that he was overstressed in the Grand Prix Special and got eliminated for biting his tongue/lip and drawing blood. 

The pair's biggest rivals in the arena at that time were Valegro, Desperados, Damon Hill and Parzival.

Long Break

At the 2013 European Championships
The highly sensitive Undercover could not cope with the electric show atmosphere and Gal gave the gelding a long break from competition. 

More than half a year later they returned to the CDI ring in the small show at the 2016 CDI Nieuw and St. Joosland, but the horse remained tense and produced a 70.222% Grand Prix score (6th). Joosland ended up being Undercover's last competition in his career. He was retired from sport at age 15.

"At the shows Fritsie was more and more stressed," Team Glock stated. "After Aachen 2015, we therefore took a break and it was not until April 2016 that Edward rode Fritsie again internationally. But there he felt again that Fritsie was stressed and so what would be the point of those potential successes if the horse with which one has such a close bond is no longer relaxed and happy at tournaments?"

A Beloved Pair that Generated Discussion

The tension Undercover showed in many competitions was often a hot topic of discussion as judges chose to close their eyes to it in favour of high scoring the extravagant piaffe-passage, though short in the neck. Also the scores given to this horse in the extended trot raised much debate. 

The German brand PETA sued Gal for animal cruelty over what they believed to have seen at the 2015 European Dressage Championships in Aachen, alleging rollkur, but in 2021 the court in Aachen ruled in favour of Edward Gal and cleared him of all charges.

Retirement and Passing

Undercover, who was known as "Fritsie" at home, spent a happy retirement at Glock's yard in The Netherlands.. He passed away almost two months ago.

At the 2015 European Championships
"It was a gentle farewell on the evening of September 26, in the company of your loved ones, who accompanied you until your last breath," Team Glock stated. "We loved you from the first moment and considered you a treasure until your last breath."

Talking about his retirement, Glock wrote, "we decided (..) in May 2016 for your life to continue free of competition. Instead, meadows with fragrant grass for you and a life without horse shoes. For a quiet farewell from the international arena, where you shone, and against a farewell in honor, which would indeed have been beautiful for people but continued pure stress for you. You loved your new life, which you led since May 2016 with us at the Glock Horse Performance Center Netherlands. In the sun, in the wind, in the freshly blooming or well-grown meadows, in the leaves of fall or in the fresh snow with a thick winter coat. Together with your friends: Tony (the pony), Nadine and Next One."

They concluded with "you were a personality, a friend and companion. It was a privilege to have you in our lives and working with you was very special. In our memory you live on. Because you were a part of us and will remain so."

Photos © Astrid Appels

Related Links
Eurodressage Photo Database: Undercover
Austrian Gaston Glock Signs Minderhoud, Gal and Werner for Ten Years
First Glock Horse for Edward Gal: Undercover
Edward Gal and Undercover Win 2012 Dutch Dressage Championships
Dutch WEG Team Loses Undercover and Siro, Voice and Arlando In
Holland Takes the Spoils in Scandalous Team Battle at 2015 European Dressage Championships
German Branch PETA Files Complaint Against Rath and Gal for Animal Abuse
Edward Gal Withdraws Undercover from Dutch Championships and Most Likely Rio Contention
Bigwood Wins 2016 CDI Nieuw en St. Joosland Grand Prix, Undercover Struggles on Come Back
PETA Loses Lawsuit Against Edward Gal for Animal Cruelty